On December 15, students of the high schools of Akhtala, Haghpat and Aqori of Lori marz discussed positive and negative sides of the inclusive education. They were justifying their pros and cons based on the law provisions, survey results and practical examples.
Debate on the topic of «Every child has a right to education» has been initiated by the World Vision Armenia Alaverdi Area Development Program.
Pros and cons and justification of those views presented by the school students were judged by the representatives of the human rights organizations.
For justification of their views, the students have conducted a research of the education related legislation, interviewed school directors, teachers, students and their parents before the debate.
«I think that everyone should have the opportunity to attend a secondary school. Conditions in the special schools are not good enough; there is lots of violence there. Knowledge is not the most important, child who has a problem should have a possibility to socialize with others at the school and make friendship», believes Lilit Simonyan, student of the 10th grade of Aqori Secondary School.
"Children with disabilities should attend secondary school. We should not pay special attention; they will feel uncomfortable if we do so. Maybe, it is worthy to develop a special project for their education, I would agree with this", says Ani Khachatryan, student of the 9 grade of Aqori secondary school.
"Judges", jury members, evaluated arguments in favor or against the inclusive educations and the final justification speeches of the students. The pro inclusive education group won in the result. Students received certificates in the following nominations: The most unconstrained speech, the most persuasive speech, the best question, the best answer and the culture of dialogue.
"Although the pro group has won the debate, I keep on my position; children with special needs should attend a special school. They have special needs that should have been met and special attention should be given to their education. They need a special approach, well-elaborated approach", is confident Gegham Ghardyan, student of the 10 grade of Haghpat secondary school.
In Lori marz 280 children need to be involved in inclusive education. Currently 113 of them receive the inclusive education organized in 3 schools of Alaverdi, Vanadzor and Stepanavan.
"Next year two other schools of our marz will provide the inclusive education: in Alaverdi and Stepanavan. Thus, we will have 5 schools providing inclusive education in the marz. I would like to mention that based on the educational strategy, soon all the schools will provide the possibility for inclusive education ", said Narek Sargsyan, the Head of Lori Region's Family, Women and Child rights protection department.
World Vision Armenia Alaverdi Area Program Director Varazdat Sargsyan says that they will continue their work aimed at raising public awareness on the importance of inclusive education in kindergartens, schools, among children and their families. "We should work in long term perspective with the society for increasing the understanding and acceptance of the importance of the inclusive education and for changing the perception concerning the children with special needs."
The event was organized in the frames of the program "Grassroots voices for human rights mobilization". To develop critical thinking of the school students and educate active citizens debates on other topics will be organized in future.